When you hear the word spiritual or spirituality you'd be forgiven for automatically conjuring images of crystal balls and tarot readers, astrology, weirdly long group hugs with super awkward eye contact and the words love and light.
For a really accurate and hilarious portrayal of the hug eye contact thing, watch this video below!
I want you to know of those are the kinds of things you think spirituality is, that isn't your fault.
Spirituality has become synonymous with new age practices and although many of those practices do indeed hold spirituality at their foundations, they arent what Spirituality is.
Confused? Read on.
Spirituality is actually something that every person holds within their humanness. It's essential to our wellbeing and how we experience life. And it has little to do with religion or spiritual practice because these are the results of the spirituality we each hold within us.
So what is Spirituality?
Spirituality is the inherent feeling within each of us that there is something greater than ourselves at play in this thing called existence.
And that doesn't necessarily mean believing in a God or supreme spiritual being. It could be a sense of nature at work, the chaos of the universe, or science!
For example, Atheists do not believe in a God, but they do believe in something, as its that belief in something that keeps them here, in their lives, living and striving and growing in their understanding of themselves and the world around them.
Many people who have strong beliefs in science are at their core, trying to understand those big questions- Why are we here? How are we here? What's this thing called life all about?
And that my friends, is what spirituality is.
Spirituality is that part of us that seeks to know thyself. To know others. To understand and be understood.
And how we move through life and seek to find the answers and connections to do those things is our personal spiritual practice.
We are currently thought to be the only animal species that has conscious introspection.
All animals eat, drink, sleep, think, communicate, feel pain.
Animals feel grief and compassion and there are many examples of animals helping other animals and humans when in danger.
Many animals have superior intelligence to humans too!
But currently the research shows that humans are different in a few ways- We are able to think about the long term future, ponder our existence and have concern around death and dying.
And that is where our spirituality comes from. This pondering about the future, about death, our existence. We have a mind that seeks to know.
So what is spiritual practice?
Simply put, spiritual practice is anything that brings you closer to understanding yourself, others, existence, life.
They are the practices that help you to reflect, stay grounded in your life, deal better with difficulty and express yourself.
They are an inwards journey into yourself as opposed to the typical climb from bottom to top for example, on Maslows Hierarchy of Needs.
But they are also the practices that bring you closer to self actualisation, which is at the very top of the Hierarchy of needs. Self actualisation being the meeting of your full and complete potential as a human being.
Most people in the world today, are understandably focused on meeting their basic and psychological needs and contrary to what you might think, spiritual practice enables those needs to be met with less struggle.
So how does spirituality benefit us?
When we engage in spiritual practice we experience more gratitude. This leads to feeling more optimistic, having deeper faith in ourselves and in experiences and increases hope and grace.
When we engage in spiritual practice we experience more compassion. Leading us to feel more empathic towards others and ourselves and appreciating the little things in life.
When we engage in spiritual practice we flourish! We have better relationships, higher confidence and self esteem, and feel more connected to the meaning and purpose of our lives. Leading to feelings of success in what we set out to achieve.
When we engage in spiritual practice we experience more personal growth. We strive for better experiences, to better understand our values and morals and work towards being a better person.
When we engage in spiritual practice we become more conscious and aware. We live more in the present moment taking pleasure in the more mundane parts of the day.
When we engage in spiritual practice we experience more connection. We feel a part of life and others lives. We connect to others and find joy joy belonging which I would argue os the most important thing that spiritual practice brings us!